New Olympic stadium dilemma: where to find ¥252 billion


As the Japan Sport Council’s advisory panel on Tuesday approved a blueprint for the new national stadium, the nation was left wondering how it would find ¥252 billion to pay for it.

JSC, an external body of the education ministry in charge of stadium construction, and the education ministry, which is supervising the overall plan, have been blamed for failing to predict ballooning construction costs.

An initial estimate of ¥162 billion quickly morphed into ¥252 billion — and some fear the figure could rise again. Construction is expected to begin in October.

JSC executive Masao Yamasaki said Tuesday that the roof’s keel arches, a complicated architectural feature, accounted for the increased budget.

“There are only a few construction companies that could carry out the plan,” Yamasaki said. “There won’t be much competition so the prices aren’t likely to go down.”

The arches themselves will cost about ¥76.5 billion — and that’s the part of the design that many experts and architects have repeatedly criticized.

“Considering what the International Olympic Committee is carrying out for (cost-cutting) reform, the current cost is far from satisfactory,” said Japan Olympics Committee Chairman Tsunekazu Takeda.

The plan to build the new stadium kicked off in 2011 when a lawmakers’ group decided it was necessary to renovate the old stadium ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. JSC set up an advisory panel of experts in March 2012, and adopted a design by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid by the end of the year.

The procedure alienated some sections of the government.

“We felt JSC and President of Japan Rugby Football Union Yoshiro Mori were carrying out the project on their own,” said an education ministry official.

It was only this April when education minister Hakubun Shimomura realized that the building as originally envisaged could not be built by the deadline. Furthermore, he admitted that they “came all the way without confirming who is responsible for the project.”

The ministry is yet to secure funds for the stadium. It plans to allocate ¥100 billion from the revenues of the high-earning soccer lottery, but it faces the risk that sales will decline. Shimomura is also counting on receiving private funds including donations and the sales of the naming rights, but the figures remain unclear.

“Some fear that the cost may soar once again, calling the decision premature. We need to give clear explanations to dispel the distrust,” said Ryu Hirofumi, a member of the JSC advisory panel and a Democratic Party of Japan member.

  • Richard Solomon

    At least there is no talk of using government bonds to pay for this stadium. At least not yet. The last thing the government needs is to take on more debt for a sports stadium that will not get that much use. So much for the PR benefits, eh?!? Will the Rugby World Cup and the Olympics bring in more than 252 billion yen to the economy overall?

  • VerityHeld

    WHY build a stadium in the first place?!?!?! All that is left after an Olympics is a decaying, rotting, deserted complex fit only for demolition! Look at Athens and other places, all that money gone for NOTHING!

  • Al_Martinez

    JSC,… have been blamed for failing to predict ballooning
    construction costs.

    Bid rigging, Yak involvement, kickbacks…

  • FunkyB

    I am NOT OK with wasting tax money on a structure that was criticized by experts from the beginning, failed to meet its budget, isn’t necessary for the purpose of stadium, and wasn’t even designed by a Japanese architect. Remove the people who failed to do their jobs from the project, scrap the plans, and have a new bidding process to find someone who can actually do the project on time and within budget. You want arches? Go to McDonalds.

  • Jamie Bakeridge

    Hehe. Japan construction industry ballooning costs shocker. The result will be the same – lots of hand wringing, air sucking and the government step in and add it to the national debt with bond issuance. The never never. Except Greece is an example that the never never is not never. Beware Japan.

  • Jay

    What a joke. And all for the ego of a little ruling party of has-beens. Japan will make the mistake Montreal made in 1976, spending billions that take a lifetime for the poor taxpayers of Japan to pay back. And for what, sport? Sorry, can’t buy the argument that there will be great lasting effects of this fiasco.

  • J.P. Bunny

    “How are we ever going to find money to pay for our huge new stadium?” Probably should have asked that question before deciding to host the games. Why even bother with a stadium? A grassy field in the center for future football games, a paved track around that for running, an artificial grassy hill surrounding all that for seating. Certainly better than spending untold billions of yen for some structure that will rarely be used and suck up more money for upkeep.